Category Archives: Insects

Coat of Many Colours

Scarlet Chested Sunbird
The Scarlet-chested Sunbird

The aptly named Scarlet-Chested Sunbird, Chalcomitra senegalensis, is a strikingly colored Sunbird belonging to the bird family Nectariniidae. They feed mainly on arthropods and nectar, and can often be seen hovering around flowering plants or hawking prey aerially or plucking insects from the ground.

Scarlet-chested Sunbird sucking nectar from an aloe plant
The Scarlet-chested Sunbird feeding from the flower of an Aloe plant

The fellow in the shot is a regular of an Aloe Vera plant in my house. On one of such visits, my camera was ready

Bird

The bright colors on this bird adds to the beauty of nature and the validity of it’s intelligent design.

Identity In Name

The Southern Damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale) is one of at least four blue damselflies with black markings that seem similar at a quick glance. The others include the:

– Common Blue Damselfly (male has a domed mushroom-like black mark on abdominal segment two)
– Azure Blue Damselfly (fine “U” shaped mark which has no stem on abdominal segment two)
– Variable Damselfly (wine glass or “U” shaped mark on abdominal segment two with a stem at its base)

A Male Southern Damselfly (Mercury Bluet) spotted in Spring on the leaf of a plant
A male Southern Damselfly

The second abdominal segments bear the most distinctive markings that help in the identification of the different species.

Like its specific name suggests, the Southern Damselfly spots a distinctive marking on the second abdominal segment that resembles the astrological symbol for the planet Mercury (☿). It’s alternative name “Mercury Bluet” is therefore more fitting and descriptive.

Other identification characteristics include:

– Elliptical spots behind the eyes
– Blue bar between the eyes
– Abdominal segment 9 is 80% black

The Southern Damselfly bearing identification features
A close-up shot of the Mercury Bluet showing part of the mercury symbol on the second abdominal segment as well as other distinctive features

To the untrained eye, these species all appear the same. But it can be even more fun looking out for these unique markings that give the different species the identification they possess

POLLEN DRAPE

A Bumblebee in the full bloom head of a Common Dandelion
A Bumblebee covered in pollen in the full bloom head of the Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelions flower at a time of the year when few other sources of nectar and pollen are available in many gardens, providing native pollinators with a ready source of early pollen for colony-building. With full-bloomed flower heads already in early spring, they are available to pollinators including the bumblebee just as they emerge from their winter nests… And these pollinators, well they don’t take the provision for granted 🙂

Corps de Feu

The large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), known in French as Petite nymphe au corps de feu ( fiery bodied Damselfly), is one of the first European damselflies on the fly in spring.

A Large Red Damselfly on a plant leaf
The large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

General Description
The Large Red Damselfly has a dark red body (Corps de feu) thinly circled with black color. There are larger black marks on the upper surface of the last segments of the abdomen.
The eyes are reddish. The thorax bears a black horizontal stripe. The legs are black. Females occur in many colour forms, but all have yellow bands around the abdominal segments.

A male large red damselfly
A male species fitting above description

Photographed Species: Male, Remshalden, Germany